I Own the Dawn (Night Stalkers #2) by M. L. Buchman

I Own the Dawn B.C.

This is probably my favorite book in the Night Stalkers series. It is the second in the series, but I think it’s probably the most interesting. The story follows Kee Smith, a mixed race tough girl who survived the Street – capital S and as she describes in the book, it’s a place you survive not somewhere you live. The love interest is Lieutenant Archibald Stevenson III. A really nice all-around guy who comes from high class but is down-to-Earth and really likable.

The story picks up when Kee is assigned to the D Battalion of SOAR. Right off the bat she makes it clear she wants nothing to do with Emily Beale and helping to create a “girlie-chopper”. It’s funny to watch her go from thinking Emily Beale is just a cute little waif who has no skills to being terrified and impressed by her. Kee takes her place as gunner in Emily’s chopper and seeks only to do her job and prove she belongs there. On one of her early missions, she helps to rescue Dilya, an orphan refugee from a gun battle. The girl clings to her and Kee becomes her guardian without even realizing it. The story then begins to be told by Kee, Dilya, and Archie. The author blends seemlessly through the three, giving different points of view and interesting insights into what is going on in each person’s head. The love story between Kee and Archie is almost a battle developing as it grows between the two individuals – Kee fighting with everything in her to not get close to people and Archie just wanting to love her and Dilya.

The book is emotional, tumultuous, and wonderful. I loved the addition of Dilya. She is a fascinating character and it’s interesting to see how her culture clashes with that of her new guardian’s. The relationships in the story that Kee develops are fraught with hair-thin trust and emotional baggage all over the place, but the author makes her coming to terms with emotions and attachments believable and not awkwardly rushed. As always, the battles and military lifestyle add an interesting and realistic backdrop to the entire story and provides insight into the different characters. I also enjoy learning the small tidbits of middle eastern life that appear in the novels.

My rating:

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The Night is Mine (Night Stalkers #1) by M. L. Buchman

Night is Mine B.C.

This is the first book in M. L. Buchman’s Night Stalker series. I’ve actually read the whole series, but reviewed very few of the books. The series is based on the best helicopter fighting squad in the Army that runs missions at night in the dangerous Hindu Kush Mountain range on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The information you learn is actually pretty cool, but it is a side benefit of the different story lines.

The book is about the first female in the SOAR program (the helicopter squad that flies at night). Captain Emily Beale grew up in Washington and joined the Army out of college and has been flying ever since. She is the first woman to break into the most elite squad there is. Shortly after she joins this amazing squad, she is pulled out on a secret mission to the White House. Here childhood crush is the current President and she is instructed to look after his wife, the First Lady, as it appears someone is trying to kill her. She is followed by her commanding officer, Major Mark Henderson, known as the Viper for his hard ass skills and amazing flying. The two develop a relationship throughout the story that is both interesting and unique.

This is one of my favorite books in the series. I come back to it again and again when I need something interesting to read. The story line is full of twists, turns, surprises, and emotional drama. However, it’s not the annoying, unnecessary emotional drama that a lot of romance books are filled with. All the emotional turmoil in the book is developed well and makes logical sense. The information you learn about different aspects of the White House, Secret Service, the Army, and helicopter flying are interesting, but I’m sure it’s mostly just basic information that anyone can discover easily. The characters are well-developed and work perfectly with the story. Most of them are easy to image or relate to, which is really great.  Almost all the characters you meet again later on in their own books or novellas of the series.

If you like military romance or romantic suspense this is a great book to go with in order to kick off the series. I’d also recommend it if you like romance, but it definitely isn’t a light-hearted book or an easy read. However, I find it is totally worth the read if you enjoy a good story.

My rating:

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Penelope (Fairweather Sisters #1) by Anya Wylde

Penelope B.C.

I picked this book up because it said it was a clean historical romantic comedy, which I am finding I like greatly. I have to say it is exactly as advertised. It takes place in the early 1800s and is a really good historical romance. I have to say it is one of the few books that has made me laugh out loud while I was reading multiple times. I really is worth the read.

The story follows Penelope, a country bumpkin from a small town in the rural country. Penelope’s mother died when she was very young, but not before extracting a promise from a Duchess to look after her daughter. The dowager takes Penelope under her wing and brings Penelope to her son’s,the Duke’s, London home. The hilarity starts as soon as Penelope arrives, hours late, soaking wet, and in the company of her pet goat. Mishap after mistake after accident follow as the young girl tries to bloom into a young woman. She annoys and angers the duke at every turn, embarrasses her friend, and has run-ins with thieves and highwaymen. Throw in a few more interesting characters and you have a wonderful, light-hearted read that is worth the time.

The characters are well-developed and completely relateable. My biggest complaint is the grammar issues, of which there are several. The storyline was smooth and didn’t drag.  It was predictable but definitely has enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. The love story could have used a little more work, but it added to the comedy in places. The length was good and fit well with the story. The story was only told from Penelope’s point of view except for a couple places that are from the Duke’s. Having more of the Duke’s perspective could have helped, but for this story it wasn’t necessary. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes historical romance.

My rating:

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Christmas at Peleliu Cove by M. L. Buchman

Christmas Peleliu Cove B.C.

I bought this book because I loved Christmas at Steele Beach so much. I was kind of surprised I didn’t like this book as much. The book covers the love story of two characters that were present in Christmas at Steele Beach but not really involved.

The story follows Petty Officer Nika Maier, the Loadmaster for Sly’s hovercraft. Nika has a really mottled history of grief and pain and won’t let anyone close. She feels out of touch and detached from her fellow soldiers. The closest she’s gotten to anyone is her present crew. He past relations were short and physical with no emotional connection. In comes Lieutenant Clint Barstowe, an Army Ranger that shakes her world up. His past is barely less filled with pain than hers. A busted marriage has left him as leery of women as Nika is of men. The two start a rocky and emotional relationship that leaves both of them shook up.

I did enjoy the book. It was filled with ups and downs and puts you through a wide spectrum of emotions. I just didn’t seem to connect with the characters as well as I have as I did in other books. Nika is a very hard individual that is trying her best no matter what she does. You learn the most about her when she becomes emotionally vulnerable throughout different incidents in the book. I did like how the author developed the characters and how you could see them changing throughout the book. There was a depth to the Lieutenant that you don’t realize at first as you read through the sections of the book told from his point of view. I would have like to have seen this pulled in to a full length novel. There was definitely areas that could be expanded and the relationship could have developed at a more realistic pace and you could see them settled in the relationship instead of just kind of falling into and then ending. If you are someone who enjoys military romances, this is probably a great book for you to read. It doesn’t connect with the Night Stalker story line much but the characters are present, so if you love the series this could be a good read as well.

My rating:

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Christmas at Steel Beach (Night Stalkers #9) by M. L. Buchman

Christmas Steel Beach B.C.

This is actually the second or third time I’ve read this book. It’s more of a novella and an add-on to the Night Stalkers series. I love the Night Stalker series and this book is about people connected to the Night Stalkers and not actually members.

The story follows Chief Steward Gail Miller as she assumes her new post as head chef on the Navy vessel currently housing the SOAR 5D division (though she doesn’t actually know that).The love interest is Chief Petty Officer Sly Stowell who is craftmaster of the ship’s hovercraft. Gail arrives to a kitchen in shambles and ends up in an accidental volunteer position on an active mission. While she is trying re-sort the kitchen, she is forming relationships with Sly and the women of SOAR. Her settling in is upended when she is faced with a man from her past waving an interesting transfer in front of her that may open up new ways to reach a dream she has. In the end, it is up to her whether to take the transfer or stay in her new home.

I love this book. It is short but full of life. The interactions between the characters are so believable and interesting. It is always fun to read how M. L. Buchman develops his characters emotionally. The book isn’t packed full of battle sequences but it definitely feels like everything moves along very well and in a regular speed. Your interest is kept throughout and there isn’t anywhere that it drags along. I highly recommend it for a short military romance read, a must read for anyone who likes the Night Stalkers series, or a fun Christmas read for anyone looking.

My rating:

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Books Over 800 Pages

Since one of my challenges is to read a book over 800 pages, I have compiled a list. I didn’t include listings that were multiple books (such as a trilogy that is over 800 pages). I went from shortest to longest. All page counts are from Goodreads.

Books Set During War Time

Since one of my challenges for this year is to read a novel set during wartime, I put together a list of some of the most recommended books to read that are set during wartime.

Civil War

  • Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  • North and South by John Jakes
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

World War I

  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Regeneration by Pat Barker
  • Birdsong by Sebastian Faulk

World War II

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusack
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Sophie’s Choice by William Styron.
  • The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin
  • Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Korean War & Vietnam

  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • The Hunters by James Salter
  • MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker

Wars in the Middle East

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Other Wars in Europe

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

Cold War

  • The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

Articles about this:

Books with Unreliable Narrators

So one of the challenges for the 2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge includes reading a book with an unreliable narrator. For some reason I couldn’t think of what that meant. The best definition I could find is: “a character whose telling of the story is not completely accurate or credible“.

Therefore, I have searched and come up with list of the most frequently mentioned books with unreliable narrators.

Here are some articles on the subject:

Rachel’s Guard (The O-Line, #2) by Jillian Jacobs

Rachel's Guard B.C.

This is the second book in the O-Line series by Jillian Jacobs. The series followers the members of the offensive line of the Manchester Marauders football team. I didn’t actually read the first book because I picked this book up through a Kindle sale. The story follows Warren “Bronco” Murray’s search for answers after his grandmother lets slip she killed a man named Thomas whom Bronco thinks is his real father. The love interest is Rachel Harris, a private investigator and mystery writer, that I picked up was introduced to Bronco in book  one. The two team up to discover the truth of Bronco’s heritage. They uncover some nasty family secrets and it’s just one crazy turn after another. The secondary story line through the whole book is Rachel’s obsessive mission to find her brother who was kidnapped by the Russian mafia when she was about eight.

The story lines intertwine and work off of each other throughout the book. You have Bronco putting everything he can into a relationship with Rachel and Rachel holding everything back because she doesn’t want to get hurt. I can say honestly this book kept my attention. There was always a lot going on and twists and turns everywhere. That was also the problem. There was no downtime in the book, no time for the characters to process and deal with things emotionally. I felt that the emotional growth of the characters was basically non-existent because it was one thing after another and then they would just have this emotional epiphany. There didn’t seem to be any real processing of emotional issues or discussions on how to deal with anything. It was just “oh I shouldn’t do that anymore” and then that was it.

I think if the book had been lengthened and the two story lines worked a little more separately it would have helped. There needed to be a break in the book. Reading it felt like a race in constant sprint instead of either a slow meandering through the story line in order to savor it or a hike that had a few twists and turns but could take your time. Overall it wasn’t bad, I just think it needed a little work and finessing. I actually thought the story lines were quite interesting and would like to go back and read the first and next few books in the series but I need a little bit of a break. It was a little tiring to read from all the stuff going on in the book.

My rating:

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Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling #15) by Nalini Singh

Allegiance of Honor B.C.

This is one of my favorite series. I was actually surprised to see I hadn’t reviewed any books in this series on my blog. I know I’ve re-read the series multiple times, but somehow I just never reviewed them. This is the fifteenth installment in the series and it’s more of a check-in with the people you’ve met throughout the series. There are a few new developments, but it’s mostly just a way to set up for the next few books.

The majority of the books in this series are stand-alones. However, I recommend that you have to read at least the three books before this one in order to really understand what is going on and who the people are. As the book is a way to catch up with everything, it covers and talks about a lot of information, events, and people that you have to be familiar with or you’ll most likely be lost and not able to completely enjoy the book.

I loved being able to catch up with the characters I haven’t seen in a while, but the series does a fairly good job of interacting with most of the characters in each book. The book also does a good job of giving a comprehensive picture of what is going on in the series at the time. However, I felt the book kind of drug along because there were so many people she was trying to cover. There was also a lot of repetition with different couples talking about the same event from different points of view. There also wasn’t really a story line. There was a short one about a kidnapping attempt, a longer one about finding a missing person, and an overview of two developing ones that will start to happen in the next book. I’d say it’s a must read for the series lovers, a good idea to read it if you are reading the series, but can be skipped if you don’t mind missing a couple pieces of information that will contribute to the story lines in other books.

My rating:

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